Dopey challenge – part 4

Marathon day. The weather was really pretty good – upper 50s to start, overcast for the most part, a bit humid. We got to the staging area with plenty of time, Beth met up with Amanda as they were going to run together, and then we headed to the corrals.

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Derek and I started in our assigned corrals (A and C, respectively), so I had a little bit of a wait alone.  But there’s always someone friendly to talk to in a Disney corral – so I spent some time chatting with a couple standing near me.

I was a little worried how today would feel.  At the start of the half marathon the day before, my legs felt really sluggish and heavy.  I recall it feeling hard to keep up a decent pace.  But today – my legs felt great and I felt like I had tons of energy….and, I started out at a pace that I would regret later! It was really hard to know what pace was the right one, not knowing how much the accumulated miles would affect your legs.

I was just excited to start the day and the final leg.  What’s amazing about this challenge is that you aren’t even halfway finished in terms of miles until you are about 2 miles into the marathon!  That’s intimidating.  The beginning of the full course is an exact duplicate of the half course – so a little boring, but I was having fun.  And then I got to the Magic Kingdom – Main Street! The Castle! Space Mountain! And I ran a little faster…

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After you leave the Magic Kingdom, you head past a couple of resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian) and then into the Richard Petty speedway.  I don’t find this addition all that interesting and it brings with it a really steep, short downhill and uphill to get into the track (on cement) – hard on the legs.  But the sun was just rising at this point and it was beautiful – there were distinct rays of sunshine spreading through the sky.  After the race – both Derek and I mentioned that moment.

Then you leave the speedway by crossing over a grassy median and taking a backroad to Animal Kingdom. On the way there, you pass the sewage treatment plant – always a highlight!  I saw the information signs that they had, but honestly didn’t smell anything that bad. Animal Kingdom is a short visit – I’m told that there were animal keepers out with animals – but I don’t recall seeing any – I think I had started to enter my zone of pain.  I knew I was starting to slow down, but I was still running at a pace that was ahead of the minimum average pace I needed to run to qualify – so I was still ok.

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(yup – I was in Animal Kingdom even though I have almost no memory of it…and a brief cameo by Japanese Minnie’s girl friend in the background!)

Next is the Wide World of Sports and you run a ridiculous number of miles in this complex. Really, how many miles can you fit in there? You do get to run on their track (nice soft surface) and also on the infield of the baseball stadium – where they often announce your name as you go by (I got a shout out!).

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But there are a lot of sharp turns in this part – which my legs were not appreciating.  You can really start to see that I was hurting at this point.  I kept doing math in my head – at this point I think I was thinking -even if you run 9 min/miles from here on out, you’ll still qualify.  Eventually that became, even if you run 10 min/miles…but then at one point I freaked out and worried that I had calculated the time between gun-time and my start time wrong and that all my estimate were off…

You hit mile 20 after the Wide World of Sports – just a 10k from there, right? In the last 10k, you visit Hollywood Studios

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(Looking fatigued but determined…and last views of the Sorcerer’s Hat!)

and then run the Boardwalk area over to Epcot, where you run around World Showcase. Noel was cheering us on right at the exit of Hollywood Studios (he had also been at the Transportation and Ticket Center) and then Gil and Jason were on the Boardwalk – with this guy:

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It was so great to see Gil and Jason, even though I was really hurting.

You head towards the International Gateway entrance to Epcot but take a slight backstage detour to really enter near England.  There are a few “hills” that seem like nothing normally, but feel like mountains at this point in the race.  And then you run around World Showcase for the third time this weekend.  I’ll tell you – that felt like the longest trip ever around World Showcase.

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(Doesn’t quite look like the same happy runner from Main Street…)

After you leave Epcot, there’s a gospel choir and then the finish line – I felt so relieved to be able to stop running!

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Because Derek started in A, and he wasn’t trained, he figured I would pass him at some point. He did so well – that I didn’t pass him until mile 22! Crazy. He ran / walked his way to a sub-4 hr marathon on very little training. I met my goal of BQing for 2016, slower than I wanted, but sufficient! We celebrated with a little champagne and beer as we waited for Beth and Amanda.  I had runner tracking set up for them and could see that they were doing great.

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It was an amazing day.  I do wish I could have run it a bit better, but I’m really proud that I finished the entire Dopey distance and qualified for Boston.

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The volunteers encouraged me to strap on some ice bags – so it looks bad, but my body ended up feeling fine for the most part

2 runs through the castle, 3 trips around World Showcase, 4 races, 6 medals and shirts, 48.6 miles – and we’re Dopey!

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